Need kids first backpack trip ideas | High Sierra Topix  

Need kids first backpack trip ideas

Backpacking and camping basics and other general trip planning discussion for the uninitiated. Use this forum to learn where to look for the information you need, and to ask questions, related to the beginner basics of backpacking and camping, including technique and best practices.
User avatar

Need kids first backpack trip ideas

Postby jimqpublic » Sat Apr 05, 2008 9:36 am

It's time for the first backpack trip for our 7 year old daughter and 5 year old son. Where should we send them? Okay, I guess my wife and I will come along too.

My parents live in Independence and I've done a lot of backpacking from the east side, but for the life of me I can't decide on the best first time trip for the tykes (as well as parents carrying extra load). We're thinking a week in late July. We would spend a couple days acclimating at altitude before beginning the trip.

My thoughts are something in the range of 3-4 miles, not too steep to a base camp. I guess that time of this year mosquitoes will be in full force everywhere. Trailhead ideas are Rock Creek little lakes, something out of Horseshoe Meadows, or Gilbert Lake out of Onion Valley. Any others?
Jim



User avatar
jimqpublic
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 47
Joined: Mon Nov 07, 2005 3:16 pm
Location: Long Beach
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Need kids first backpack trip ideas

Postby dodgerbill55 » Sat Apr 05, 2008 1:33 pm

How about Blue Lake out of Lake Sabrina? From there you could dayhike Baboon Lakes, Donkey Lake, Dingleberry Lake.
Take care of the land...Someday you'll be part of it
User avatar
dodgerbill55
Topix Novice
 
Posts: 12
Joined: Sun Nov 06, 2005 6:43 pm
Location: Agoura Hills, CA
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Need kids first backpack trip ideas

Postby Timberline » Sat Apr 05, 2008 1:40 pm

Howdy jimqpublic!
I don't feel qualified to speak first on this thread, 'cause so many seasoned colleagues here will have a better handle than I on your question. All of your suggestions sound feasible, you just can adapt to the capabilities and enthusiasm of your tykes. Just wanted to chime in to say I am happy to see you planning a trip for your young kids. I have great memories of sharing the backcountry with my kids for the first time, and I think they even thought it was cool, too. My daughter in particular has surpassed her Dad in having grand adventures. My oldest son and I had our best trip together into 4th Recess and Pioneer Basin when he was 12. Years before I was married and had kids of my own, I met a family at Evolution Lake with a young son who had just lost his first tooth on the trail. He was obviously having tremendous fun, and his folks seemed both relaxed and comfortable about their roles as Mom and Dad trailguides for their boy. That chance meeting and our brief visit on the trail has always impressed me. So wherever you decide to go, yes, be sure to tag along with the kids for all the fun. Best wishes for a memorable trip together! :)
Let 'er Buck! Back in Oregon again!
User avatar
Timberline
Topix Regular
 
Posts: 216
Joined: Wed Dec 28, 2005 1:55 pm
Location: Prineville, Oregon (Since 7/15/13)
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Need kids first backpack trip ideas

Postby LMBSGV » Sat Apr 05, 2008 3:55 pm

We started taking our son when he was 2 years 9 months. He always had a great time. One suggestion is to allow your kids to take along a small container with toys they can play with at the campsite. Our son used a band-aid box for his little action figures/cars. He'd get them out at the campsite and he'd have them playing in shallow creeks, sand, climbing rocks and trees, etc. Also, I used to tell him stories while we were hiking to keep his mind on something besides thinking that he's supposed to be getting tired.

Along with Blue Lake and Little Lakes Valley, if you think they can go a little further, Dusy Basin (the off-trail lakes especially - perhaps spend the first night at Bishop Lake and go over the pass the next day), Big McGee Lake out of McGee Creek (you'd could then dayhike up to the pass), or past Blue Lake to Midnight, Hungry Packer, etc. (we did this with our son when he was 5 - it took two days to get to Midnight, but he hiked back easily in one day).

Hope you have a great trip - my family has a lot of wonderful memories (and photos) of our trips.
User avatar
LMBSGV
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 579
Joined: Sat Oct 27, 2007 8:42 pm
Location: San Geronimo, CA
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Need kids first backpack trip ideas

Postby BrianF » Sat Apr 05, 2008 8:54 pm

My son's first Sierra Backpack was in Little Lakes/Rock creek at about six or seven (he'd been backpacking a few times in our local backcountry before that). It worked out great; easy to camp and acclimatize before and virtually level hiking in glorious surroundings. We made it to Long Lake that year and went back a couple of years later to Chickenfoot lake.
The most important thing is to make sure not to load them up to much (20% of body weight max, which is not much for a 5 yr old) and to make sure they have fun - toys, books, some paper to draw on, stay warm and don't walk them into the ground. If thay have a good time they will want to go year after year. One of our favorite trips that my son and I took was when he was about eight and it rained the whole weekend, We holed up in the tent and I read aloud to him for hours at a time, he made a flip book with a small pad of paper and we played in the rain.
The direction you are moving in is what matters, not the place you happen to be -Colin Fletcher
User avatar
BrianF
Topix Regular
 
Posts: 283
Joined: Thu Jul 06, 2006 1:29 pm
Location: Santa Barbara,Ca
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Need kids first backpack trip ideas

Postby Baffman » Sat Apr 05, 2008 11:08 pm

Wow, another Independence dude. Did you live there too? Maybe I know you.

As a kid, my first backpack trip was out of Onion Valley. My suggestion to you is to do the same, but don't stay at Gilbert. It's overused. Gilbert would be great for a lunch spot, but I would either stay at Flower or preferably Matlock lake, just to the south of Flower. You know, if you want an even shorter hike for the youngsters, try Robinson Lake, also out of Onion Valley, but only about 1.5 miles.

Baff
User avatar
Baffman
Topix Regular
 
Posts: 126
Joined: Thu Feb 16, 2006 7:35 pm
Location: Fernley, NV, formerly Independence, CA
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Need kids first backpack trip ideas

Postby giantbrookie » Sun Apr 06, 2008 11:28 am

I have two kids 2 and 6 and we'll probably (hopefully) do our first backpack this summer to a (won't name this place) location on the eastern front that features a hike of about 1 mi and less than 300' of gain to the campsite (2 year old will be in kiddie carrier on my wife's back, most likely, with me carrying all the gear in my giant backpack). Were it not for the fact that the trip is partly designed for hitting the home run (ie, very large fish), my choice for a first time backpack trip would be somewhere in Little Lakes Valley (Rock Creek), because you can get into nice territory with very little distance (easiest lakes are less than 1 mi one way) and elevation gain (easiest lakes less than 200 feet of gain) and there are many options to walk around and get off the main beaten path that require very little effort. In fact the many options in Little Lakes Valley allow one to adjust the trip according to how the kids are doing (farther if they are hiking well, shorter if they aren't). In fact, if my kids like the backpack experience at the undisclosed location above, we may in fact backpack into Little Lakes Valley the next couple of days (had been planning to car camp and do a bunch of day hikes there). The lakes out of Onion Valley are nice, but the elevation gain may be a bit tough, depending on how well the kids hike, and one needs to get to that first lake in order to reach a good spot. Some of the lakes out of Mammoth make good easy trips, too, with the easiest ones being in the 1-1.5 mile range and 300-600 feet of gain. I think it is easier to find little hideaway spots in Little Lakes Valley than Mammoth, though. There are also some good possibilities out of Virginia Lakes, with the first lake, Blue Lake, being only 0.5 mi in and the next ones in (Cooney is one of them, I recall) are just a hair over 1 mi from the car.

A lot depends on how well your kids hike. Everyone is different. My first backpack trip was just after I turned 8, and it was to Pear Lake. I hiked very well, so as long as I didn't carry anything. I started out carrying a homemade rig that featured my sleeping bag in a stuff sack with shoulder straps on it. About 1/3 mi into the trip I couldn't handle it and my dad (bottomless pack in the 70lb range) swapped my sleeping back for my jacket. After about another 1/3 of a mile I couldn't handle that either, so he took everything, and the rest of the hike into Pear Lake didn't seem too bad for me (climbed Alta Peak the next day without too much ado). I was probably a stronger than average hiker for my age, given that I had done a dayhike (Snow Mtn.) that summer with 4000' of gain, but I have seen much stronger. I once ran into a 7-year-old carrying a huge pack over Lamarck Col. and leaving his dad in the dust! (his grandad, in the lead, kept telling the kid "why don't you go back and keep your dad company"). Most kids, I imagine, won't be like that 7-year-old (whose first and middle names were, appropriately enough, Darwin Lamarck), and I know my 6-year-old won't be close (my 2-year-old may be when she gets to that age, though). In any case, I figure on erring on the easy side (hence the Little Lakes Valley recommendation), given that one doesn't want to discourage a little one and have them develop a negative view of backpacking. In fact, 22 years ago I took my wife (or at the time, wife-to-be) on her first backpacking trip, and it was to Little Lakes Valley. Within 6 years she was doing things such as Edyth Lake and Dumbbell Lakes with me, but I made sure to start things on the easy side.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
User avatar
giantbrookie
Founding Member & Forums Moderator
Founding Member & Forums Moderator
 
Posts: 2439
Joined: Wed Dec 28, 2005 10:22 am
Location: Fresno
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Need kids first backpack trip ideas

Postby frediver » Sun Apr 06, 2008 12:11 pm

IMO I would limit the first trip to 2 maximum with a reasonable elevation gain. The first trip is the important trip and you will be the pack mule. Take plenty of fun stuff ( normal food ) frozen hotdogs, marshmallows, a soda or two. The ability to have an open fire would be nice. You and the kids have plenty of time later to trim down your packs after the interest is there and they are able to pack more of there own gear.
On a side note.
If you like the hug-a-tree concept think about this.
Ea child should have a full roll of survey tape.
If they get lost or need finding teach the following.
Tie one end of the tape roll to a tree, rock or bush.
String out the tape full length AND across a terrain feature, ie across a trail ( of course sitting in the middle of the trail is a good idea as well ), at right angles away from a creek, across a gully bottom etc. run the tape in a straight line then tie the other end two their belt or the tree they are hugging. then sit down and wait, they will be found. You would be surprised to learn the number of times searchers have walked within 50ft. of someone and not seen their target. Kids can be to scared to call out, they can be asleep, or just not seen in the cover, tape works 24/7.
Get the orange survey tape or perhaps the metallic gardeners tape.
User avatar
frediver
Topix Regular
 
Posts: 268
Joined: Sat Jan 13, 2007 11:15 pm
Location: n.cal
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Need kids first backpack trip ideas

Postby LarBear » Thu Apr 10, 2008 9:20 pm

My 4 kids, now grown, are enthusiastic backpackers. The places mentioned are good choices except for Dusy Basin,which is really to hard for a kid. Treasure Lakes out of South Lake is much closer and easier. Yosemite has two outstanding places. Lytle Canyon is flat as a board with a running river and animals. My favorite though is Saddlebag Lake, The trip starts with a boat trip whcih the kids love. Then you can hike to the first lake, Gemstone, which is only 1/2 mile in or to the lakes to the East of the trail which is a 2 1/2 mile hike. Also consider the Western slope where there are hikes that allow fires (miost Eastern trailheads , like Little Lake Valley don't). The Lillian Lake, Norton Creek area south of Yosemite, East of Oakhurst is never crowded and kids love fires and S'Mores. Most of all ,make it fun.
User avatar
LarBear
Topix Novice
 
Posts: 15
Joined: Sun Apr 30, 2006 6:47 pm
Location: Los Angels
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Need kids first backpack trip ideas

Postby jimqpublic » Thu Apr 10, 2008 9:38 pm

Thanks, great suggestions all!

The campfire issue is something to consider. Right now Rock Creek and Horseshoe Meadows are my leading contenders for the flattish terrain and close lakes.

I'm also planning a solo backpack of most of the JMT a one or two weeks later when the family heads off to visit in-laws out of state. I was hoping to retain some benefit from the family trip on my solo trip (condition, altitude, or at least being used to sleeping on the ground).

BTW- Baff- I went to high school in Independence and graduated in 1983.

Jim
User avatar
jimqpublic
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 47
Joined: Mon Nov 07, 2005 3:16 pm
Location: Long Beach
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Need kids first backpack trip ideas

Postby giantbrookie » Fri Apr 11, 2008 1:04 pm

LarBear brings up a good point about campfires and the fact that they aren't permitted in nearly all of the major basins associated with the East-Side trailheads, whereas. Kids do indeed love those campfires. Mine (2 and 6) sure do (multiple car camps so far, but no backpack until this summer). None of the west side entry trailheads (to campfire legal areas) are quite as easy (ie 1 mi range) as Little Lakes Valley, Virginia Lakes, and Saddlebag, but some are not too bad. Dinkey Lakes comes to mind. Mystery Lake is a about 2 miles and something like 400 feet of gain from the trailhead and First Dinkey is about 3-3.5 miles with similar elevation gain (bit more centrally located and more reliable fishing if the latter is one of the activities). There are abundant dayhike opportunities for a base camp in the Dinkey Lakes.

Another little note: For the campfire issues with the east side trailheads, it is a good idea to look at the boundaries of the wilderness and the campfire prohibited areas, for there are some creative solutions that involve camping just outside the wilderness boundary and outside of the campfire prohibited zones. I will be applying such creativity myself on the debut backpack for my kids this summer, and I have a friend who did this with kids on several backpack trips (his trips picked campsites just outside of the Desolation Wilderness boundary because campfires are prohibited in all of DW).
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
User avatar
giantbrookie
Founding Member & Forums Moderator
Founding Member & Forums Moderator
 
Posts: 2439
Joined: Wed Dec 28, 2005 10:22 am
Location: Fresno
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Need kids first backpack trip ideas

Postby quentinc » Fri Apr 11, 2008 9:45 pm

We're hoping that this will be the summer we can take our 3-1/2 year old on his first backpack. I think my first choice would be out of Horseshoe Meadow, taking the "back route" up towards the Cottonwood Lakes basin (it veers off the main trail right after the first creek crossing). The nice thing about that area is it's relatively untraveled, it's fairly flat for some distance, and has a creek running along it. That way, we'd have a lot of flexibility as to where we stopped to camp. If we're really lucky, we'd make it the whole way to the lake basin.

The summer before our son was born, I took a solo trip over Cottonwood Pass, to Rocky Basin Lakes. On the way back, I passed a mother with her 4 and 5 year old, who were going to hike all the way from Big Whitney Meadow out to the parking lot on that day. I was mighty impressed, and said a prayer that our son would turn out to be that hardy!
User avatar
quentinc
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 890
Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2005 10:28 pm
Location: Los Angeles
Experience: N/A

Next

Return to Backpacking / Camping 101



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest